Mikulov

History of the Jewish quarter

Here despite the extensive demolitions in the past a number of houses of the original Jewish inhabitants have survived from mid 16th century when the first stone houses were built. A number of them include typical features of Jewish houses and that is why the whole row of the survived houses (45) was announced cultural monument in the area of sculpture.

The origin of the Jewish community in Mikulov can be dated with the period after 1421, when Jews were expelled by Duke Albrecht V. Habsburský from Vienna and Lower Austria and part of them found refuge in the nearby Mikulov. Another inflow came after the Jews were expelled from Moravian towns, mainly from Brno and Znojmo. The members of this minority, disdained in the Middle Ages, settled in the Za hradem street, in the beginning next to the surrounding Christian houses. Later they purchased them and a separate Jewish quarter came to existence. The right to self government and other privileges were granted to the Mikulov Jews as late as in 1591 by Maxmilian of Dietrichstein.

The Mikulov Jewish community soon became one of the largest in Moravia and that is why the institution of the Moravian Regional Rabbi was situated there before mid 16th century. The Rabbi was seated in Milulov till 1851. Mikulov was also a major spiritual centre of Jewishness and Jewish religion. The Jews made up their living by small trades and crafts since 17th and 18th centuries.

The life of not only the Jewish community, but the town as a whole was significantly affected by the large fire of 10 August 1719, when the whole Jewish quarter was burnt down. Following new building of the Ghetto in nearly identical manner another fire came on 22 April 1737. At that time the Mikulov Jewish quarter with its 600 settled families was the largest in Moravia and later the number grew even further. Thanks to the major social changes in the mid 19th century the Jews became equal too and so they could freely acquire property and move house. The changes resulted in arrivals of mew Jewish families from the overcrowded Ghettos in Brno and Vienna. In 1848 the Jewish community became a separate entity with its own Mayor and administrative authorities, to be cancelled in 1919. Since then the Jews and their quarter became part of the town. The end of Jewishness in Mikulov came with World War II, when just a couple of them survived and never renewed the Jewish quarter in Mikulov again.

The first houses of the Jewish quarter were wooden. Only after the destructive fires in mid 16th century wood was replace with stone. That is why most of the preserved houses have renaissance core. As more and more Jewish families came the size of the Jewish quarter grew. After arrival of the refugees from Vienna in 1670 the Jews inhabited the Hlavní and the Příčná streets (today ´s Husova and Alfonse Muchy streets) and also the Zámecká and the Úzká streets (opposite the synagogue). On the other end the Jewish quarter extended as far as the Jewish cemetery. A new design of Ghetto was prepared after the fire in 1719, the Jewish and the Christian houses were completely separated and protective walls against further fires were built. Wood and shingles for the roofs were strictly prohibited. Better spatial conditions for the Jews were brought about by the changes in the mid 19th century and the end to their isolation. After 1945 a number of the original Jewish houses were destroyed. Out of the original 317 houses just 90 survived. Half of the preserved Jewish houses were rightly announced cultural monument recently.